MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team exploded offensively to knock off gritty Southeast Missouri, 100-71, to pick up the Ohio Valley Conference West division victory.
The Skyhawks (12-6, 5-0 OVC) shot an impressive 50 percent from the floor while winning the turnover battle once again, forcing Southeast Missouri into 18 turnovers. Continuing to pass the ball effectively, the Skyhawks tallied 18 assists on the team’s 30 field goals.
Offensively, the Skyhawks were led in scoring by senior Heather Butler who tallied 23 points and six assists in just 22 minutes of play. Butler continued her historic scoring pace, moving into second on the OVC’s all-time scoring list with 2,506 career points. Jasmine Newsome tallied 16 points while the freshman duo of Ashia Jones and Tiara Caldwell scored 15 and 12 points, respectively. Chelsea Roberts tossed in eight points while registering 10 rebounds.
“I thought the first five minutes of the second half was a statement that I have been looking for from our kids,” said UT Martin coach Kevin McMillan. “To make the statement of being relentless and dominating the game makes me unbelievably pleased. The intensity and effort in which we played with early was exactly what we have been trying to instill in our program.”
Southeast Missouri (5-12, 1-3 OVC) was led in scoring by Brianna Mitchell who tallied 20 points while making 12-of-14 free throw opportunities. Jordan Hunter tossed in 16 points while Patricia Mann scored seven points along with grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds.
Neither team came out of the game with much momentum, each tallying just three point in the opening four minutes of play. Both teams opened the game shooting just 14 percent from the floor.
The Skyhawks would respond over the next few minutes, outscoring the Redhawks 13-6. The duo of Newsome and Butler would score 11 combined points over the span, led by six points from Newsome.
Butler and Newsome continued their torrid pace over the ensuing minutes of play. Butler led the duo with another six points, pushing her double figure streak to 115 straight games. Newsome chipped in an addition five points to give the Skyhawks the 30-19 lead with 7:01 to play in the first.
The offensive tempo remained steady for the Skyhawks over the next four minutes, outscoring the Redhawks 14-5. Caldwell checked into the game, scoring an immediate five points for the Skyhawks as both Newsome and Butler were in double figures.
Holding nearly even, the Skyhawks outscored the Redhawks 6-4 in the final minutes of the first half. Newsome led the Skyhawks with 16 points while Butler rounded out double figure scorers with 12 points. Mitchell led the Redhawks with eight first half points.
The second half looked much like the first as the Skyhawks would quickly outscore the Redhawks 20-5, including a 14-0 run to end the span. Both Butler and Jones scored seven points to open the second half. With Butler tallying her 17th point during the span, she moved into second on the OVC’s all-time scoring list with her 2,509th career point.
The Skyhawks took complete control of the game with another 11-6 run over the ensuing four minutes of play. With the Skyhawks leading 81-39 with 10:56 to play, Caldwell joined the trio of Butler, Newsome and Jones with her 10th point of the game.
Despite the score, the Redhawks stayed within their game as Hunter reached double figures. The Redhawks would outscore the Skyhawks during the run, 6-4.
Southeast Missouri went on a big run with just over 10 minutes to play, outscoring the Skyhawks reserves 15-6 over a span of four minutes. The Redhawks would force eight turnovers during the span, while limiting their own turnovers.
The Redhawks would threaten in the game’s closing minutes, but could not overcome the Skyhawks early deficit. The Skyhawks would reach triple digits in the scoring column for just the second time this season, taking home the 100-71 victory.
UT Martin will be back in action on Saturday, Jan. 18 when they travel to OVC East member Morehead State. Tip-off from Morehead, Ky. is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. Central.